Feb 4, 2006

My cousin died well on Friday. Hammered by Ewing's sarcoma – a childhood disease rare in adults – he had, um, padded the truth a bit. Either that or the grapevine tangled between Florida and Seattle.

"Months to go," I heard. "But visit soon while he's still strong."

Ryan McCleskey was strong right until the end. He was laughing and joking with friends at home. "I need to rest," he announced. Then he walked into the other room and died quickly in the arms of his family: his new bride Kitty, his brother Reed, his mother Darlene.

He was just 26. But he had the sense to pass with love, laughter and dignity ... what more can you really ask for?

Except for dear ones not to die young. And for him to see the second annual Ryan McCleskey Redfish Challenge II today. Despite crummy weather, 102 fishers raised over $9,000 for the Children's Hospital Cancer Fund.

Some Jack Johnson lyrics tug at me:

I heard some words
from a friend on the phone,
didn't sound so good
The doctor gave him two weeks to live
I'd give him more if I could

And I can imagine Ryan's voice booming: "Amy (my baby name), can't you find something more butch?"

So I'll sign off with silliness, as he would have liked. In This is the Place, Anthony Kiedis sings: "On the day my best friend died /I could not get my copper clean."

The reference is probably to some junkie kit. But I always imagine Flea and the other Red Hot Chili Peppers scrubbing posh pots, distracting from grief with menial tasks, like I've done.

My heart's heavy, but my house is damn clean. And that, I'm pretty sure, would have made my cousin grin.



  1. Anonymous9:55 PM


    There is hope that you will recieve this feedback to your post/blog. You are a wonderful cousin.

    Ryan was and is a very important person to me, Jason Smith, as well as my wife, Karae.

    Your message was found by one of Ryan's best friends fiance.
    Ryan had a great friend in Dennis Kostick, and his fiance, Callie Neel. They met Ryan in DC while he was in therapy at the NIH. I found Ryan through a good friend, Tim Edmiston. Ryan and I were both deep sea divers in the Navy.

    We were brothers from that day forward.

    We all miss your cousin very much. We look forward to getting to know you better.

    you can e mail us personaly at jasonkarae@aol.com if you would like.

    Cheers to the coolest cat ever,
    Ryan Mclesky.

    Your friends in SW Florida thank you for you awesome comments.

  2. Anonymous9:04 PM

    Hi Amanda,

    I was a nurse with Ryan in Bethesda and you couldn't have met a nicer guy. I loved it when he and Kitty would come in because despite what he was going through he always made us laugh and smile. He continues to be missed....



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